“Grey, sometimes I look into your eyes and I see a land with marshmallow-topped trees and lots of fake-breasted women. Any the hoo! Who can be this year’s Matt Harvey?” That’s you when you’re being real with yourself. Sonny Gray can be this year’s Matt Harvey. I don’t even know if he’s going to be a sleeper, but my guess is he won’t be ranked in the top ten for all starting pitchers, but could end up there by the end of the year, so that ups his sleeperitude, which is like pulchritudinous because it looks like it would be a negative or some rare disease, but it’s one of the greatest compliments that can’t be pronounced by most people. Sleeper-a-tude? Sleepery-tude? Sleep-er-eye-tude? Don’t even get me to try and pronounce pulchritudinous. I can’t even spell it without copying and pasting it from Google. Sonny Gray doesn’t get touched by my soft hands on his subtle features simply because he sounds like he’s related to me or because he tried in earnest to grow a mustache. We’re not that shallow here — though, I will say a land of marshmallow-topped trees and fake-breasted women does sound wonderful. So, what can we expect from Sonny Gray for 2014 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Last year, my man Sonny burst on the scene. Looked better than Harvey in his first year. In 64 innings, Gray notched a 9.42 K-rate, which would have put him in the top ten — just above Strasburg. A K-rate isn’t something that should disintegrate upon further exposure with his type of stuff. It’s not like once batters get a book on Gray he’s going to fall to a 7+ K-rate. He’s nasty and that’s not going anywhere if he’s healthy. The one thing that usually trips up these youngsters — I’m an oldster calling kids youngsters! — is the walk rate. That was the one thing that stood out for Harvey after his rookie year. Sonny Gray’s walk rate was 2.81 and well within the range of average-slash-doable-usable-adjective. For any pitcher, a 9+ K-rate and a sub-3 walk rate equals a guy that can easily be below a 3.00 ERA. No fooling. We’re talking about a guy that will surprise if he’s above a 3.50 ERA. (Side note: You know how hard is becoming excited about hitters in today’s game? It’s not hard to find pitchers to get excited about. It’s like we’re playing fantasy baseball in 1968 and they just raised the mound two feet and Denny McLain looks less like an ex-con and more like a fantasy ace.) I’m looking at Steamer’s projections for Gray (7.23 K/9, 3.45 BB/9) and I’m scratching my head after scratching my butt, but I washed my hands between the two. Those numbers look hella low if anyone still says hella. Gray hasn’t struggled since a half season in Double-A in 2012, but he admitted to a mechanical problem then. Well, anything can get in the way of development, but I see no reason to be cautious. Gray could easily have a year that looks like Harvey’s 2013, but I’ll be conservative and give him the line of 13-7/3.32/1.17/195 with a chance for much more. I love
you me Gray!